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China Daily Website

Charity hospitals focus on children's well-being

Updated: 2012-08-22 08:13
By Yang Wanli ( China Daily)

Before 1949, there were only a number of charity hospitals on the Chinese mainland. One was the Shanghai Union Hospital, which was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation in the United States and there were Red Cross hospitals in some areas.

After 1949, all hospitals became State-owned and there were no charity hospitals on the Chinese mainland until 2007, when Operation Smile, opened a charity hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The hospital is supported by 40 foreign experts and 20 full-time doctors and it can do six operations at the same time.

Founded in the US in 1982, Operation Smile, a medical charity that provides free reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities, conducted its first medical mission to Hangzhou, where, in cooperation with Municipal Plastic Hospital of Hangzhou, volunteers performed reconstructive surgery on more than 150 children who had cleft lips, cleft palates or burns in 1991.

In October that year, Operation Smile China Medical Mission Ltd was founded in Hong Kong to organize and fund medical programs in China. Operation Smile China Medical Mission has completed over 52 missions at 23 sites in China since then, helping about 10,000 children in 15 provinces.

The second charity hospital in China, the Beijing Smile Angel Hospital, opened on July 1 this year with the financial support of the Smile Angel Foundation, which is a Beijing-based fund affiliated with the Red Cross Society of China. The foundation was set up by the singer Faye Wong and her actor husband Li Yapeng, following their experiences trying to get treatment for their daughter, who was born with a cleft lip.

As a general children's hospital, Beijing Smile Angel Hospital has about 180 physicians and nurses, 10 percent of whom are volunteers. Most of the hospital's financial support comes from donations, and the hospital's 13 board members are each required to donate 1.5 million yuan ($235,000) a year for the first five years.